Beginning of Easter Seals
In 1954 a group of community
leaders who were connected to each other through the Masonic Order and Eastern Star
of Florida met in Orlando to plan the kick-off campaign for a new National
Program called Easter Seals. (Left to
right: Mrs. David L. Black - Daytona Beach; J. W. Dupree - Tampa;
Francis C. Walton - Daytona Beach; Earl E. Lettelier, Sr. - Ft. Lauderdale; A.
Pickens Coles, President - Tampa; Robert S. Carr - Orlando; Mr. R. B.
Sensabaugh - Gainesville; Lisle Reese, Executive Director - Orlando; Judge A.
J. Hayward, Jr. - Dade City)
Their mission was to help, aide
and assist the National Easter Seals Foundation by raising money locally and
funding an Easter Seals Clinic and Mobile Therapy Units to travel statewide
helping crippled and disabled children. (Left
to right: Earl E. Lettelier, Sr., Mrs. Netta Kessler, and Frank Ghiotto)
A poster child was selected and
Florida Grotto Units lead by Feramo Grotto in Ft. Lauderdale quickly raised
The first Easter Seals Clinic
was opened in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida at the old Naval Air Station. Note
the wheelchair ramps leading into the building!
At the clinic parents would
bring their children for a variety of free clinical services.
Many of the children didn't even
have a clue of the seriousness of their conditions (flat footed and feet
turned out). The look on the mothers face above is one of worry, yet her
little girl smiles happily for the photographers camera.
The Florida State Grotto
Association is seen here presenting a check to the Easter Seals Foundation
President A. Pickens Coles as well as two mobile therapy units.
Many of Florida's disabled
children lived in rural areas far from the Ft. Lauderdale clinic. These
1957 Chevy Station Wagons were staffed by a driver and a nurse who took their
work into the field to visit them.
Many parades were held around
Florida by the Florida State Grotto Assoc. to popularize the Easter Seals
Campaign. Note the early television movie cameras on the top of the
entrance to the old Sarasota Hotel.
"Thanks" to our Museum Curator David J. Lettelier, who's grandfather
Earl E. Lettelier, Sr. was the Fla. State Grotto President and responsible for
having the above photos taken. His grandfather rallied behind the Easter
Seals campaign when his youngest son Jack Lettelier (David's uncle) was born
with cerebral palsy. To become active in an Easter Seals Chapter near
you click on the links below:
Easter Seals has been helping
individuals with disabilities and special needs, and their families, live
better lives for more than 80 years. Whether helping someone improve physical
mobility, return to work or simply gain greater independence for everyday
living, Easter Seals offers a variety of services to help people with
disabilities address life's challenges and achieve personal goals.
Leads to Inspiration
In 1907, Ohio-businessman Edgar Allen lost his son in a streetcar
accident. The lack of adequate medical services available to save his son
prompted Allen to sell his business and begin a fund-raising campaign to build
a hospital in his hometown of Elyria, Ohio. Through this new hospital, Allen
was surprised to learn that children with disabilities were often hidden from
public view. Inspired by this discovery, in 1919 Allen founded what became
known as the National Society for Crippled Children, the first organization of
Birth of the Seal
In the spring of 1934, the organization launched its first Easter
"seals" campaign to raise money for its services. To show their
support, donors placed the seals on envelopes and letters. Cleveland Plain
Dealer cartoonist J.H. Donahey designed the first seal. Donahey based the
design on a concept of simplicity because those served by the charity asked
"simply for the right to live a normal life."
The lily – a symbol of spring
– was officially incorporated as Easter Seals' logo in 1952 for its
association with resurrection and new life and has appeared on each seal
The overwhelming public support for the Easter "seals" campaign
triggered a nationwide expansion of the organization and a swell of grassroots
efforts on behalf of people with disabilities. By 1967, the Easter
"seal" was so well recognized, the organization formally adopted the
name "Easter Seals."
Easter Seals assists more than 1 million children and adults with
disabilities and their families annually through a nationwide network of more
than 400 service sites. Each center provides top-quality, family-focused and
innovative services tailored to meet the specific needs of the particular
community it serves.
Seals services include:
Easter Seals also advocates for
the passage of legislation to help people with disabilities achieve
independence, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Passed in
1990, the ADA prohibits discrimination against anyone who has a mental or
physical disability, guaranteeing the civil rights of people with
At the core of the Easter Seals
organization is a common passion for caring, shared by its 13,000 staff
members and thousands of volunteers, and by those who support its mission.
This heart-felt commitment to helping people with disabilities and their
families is what Easter Seals is all about.
1919: Founded by Edgar Allen to help children with disabilities
1934: Conducted first Easter
"seal" fund-raising campaign
1944: Broadened mission to help adults
1944: Broadened mission to help adults
1950: Achieved nationwide reach
1952: Officially incorporated lily into
Easter Seals symbol
1967: Adopted the name Easter Seals
1984: Served more than 1 million people
1990: Helped pass Americans with
Disabilities Act into law
2000: Received top recognition by
National Health Council for 20th consecutive year